Red Seven System

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The members of the blackjack community frequently debate on the subject of which card counting system is the best to use. The truth of the matter is this depends on what blackjack games one plays. Most card counting systems perform almost equally well when used against multiple-deck games.

The discrepancies in the systems’ performance become more pronounced when one plays single-deck blackjack. Multiple-level balanced systems with a side-count for the Aces significantly outperform unbalanced, level-one counting systems when cards are dealt out of a single deck.

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Yet, most professional players and blackjack experts stand by the opinion that it is better to use simpler counting systems because simplicity and ease of use prevent human errors and mental fatigue. One such simpler counting system is the Red Seven. It was invented by Blackjack Hall of Fame inductee and prominent author Arnold Snyder who tackled it in his book Blackbelt in Blackjack.

Mr. Snyder was also the first expert to discuss how deck penetration affects the win rates of card counters. He insisted penetration actually has a bigger impact on the counter’s win rates than the actual counting system they use.

The truthfulness of this statement was substantiated by various computer simulations which established Mr. Snyder’s assumption was indeed correct. Mr. Snyder further laid out his thoughts on different counting systems, including the Red Seven, in his 2006 book The Big Book of Blackjack. In this article, we introduce readers to how the Red Seven card counting system works and how does it compare to other popular counting strategies used in blackjack.

The Mechanics of the Red Seven Counting System

Red Seven Counting SystemWe assume you are new to card counting so let’s explain in brief how does it work in general. Blackjack is a game based on conditional probability which means previous outcomes have an impact on the probabilities of future outcomes.

Once a given card has been dealt on the felt, it cannot make an appearance during the next round of play unless the dealer reinserts it into the pack and reshuffles. In blackjack, the high cards are good for the player so when there is an excess of high cards that remain to be dealt, the odds favor the player. Conversely, low cards work to the advantage of the house so when the remaining pack is rich in those, the odds shift in favor of the casino.

When employed properly, card counting systems like the Red Seven enable the player to determine the ratio between high and low cards that remain to be played. There is no need for you to memorize every single card that leaves the shoe by heart. All you need to do is track how many of the cards that have been played were low ones and how many of them were high ones.

You achieve this by assigning count values to every single card you see on the felt and then adding or subtracting this value to and from your current count. The Red Seven counting system assigns the following count values to the cards:

  • Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10 are counted as -1
  • Low cards 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 are counted as +1
  • The red 7s (i.e. the 7 of diamond and the 7 of hearts) are assigned a value of +1
  • The 8, the 9, and the black 7s (i.e. the 7 of spades and the 7 of clubs) are neutral and have a value of 0

It is obvious the Red Seven is sensitive to the suit of the 7s, hence the name. This renders it an unbalanced counting system. It is intentionally designed in this manner to eliminate the necessity of converting the running count into a true count. You keep a running count throughout the entire course of your betting session by adding and subtracting the values of the dealt cards.

The Pivot Number

card countingSimilarly to other unbalanced systems, the Red Seven uses a pivot number to indicate the situations in which the player has an edge. It is established that when the running count gets neutral, i.e. it reaches 0, the player holds an advantage over the house of around half a percent. Respectively, the 0 is the pivot number for those who use the Red Seven system and helps them make better-informed decisions when it comes to varying their bet size.

Adjusting Your Bet Size and Playing Decisions with the Red Seven System

blackjack card countingSome players avoid back-counting because it may attract casino heat. If wonging in and out of a game is not possible where you play, you should bet the table minimum during all negative running counts. Once you reach the pivot number for the Red Seven system, you should start increasing the size of your bets.

The bet sizing is influenced by the table conditions. In single-deck blackjack, the player is recommended to double their bet when they reach the pivot of 0, raise it to four units once the IRC increases to +2 and continue betting this amount until it drops again.

However, this is not the case when you apply the Red Seven in shoe games where you should not increase the bet size again until you arrive at a running count of +6. This calls for a raise to three units. One easy way to remember the bet sizing is to divide the current running count by 2.

Therefore, if you arrive at a running count of +8, you should increase your wager to four units. When it reaches +10, you need to bet five units and when it escalates to +16, you should wager eight units. However, the situations when the count reaches +16 arise on extremely rare occasions.